I had a designated Media sticker on my car, so I had to park in the designated location for my orange sticker. Sometimes I was lucky and parked close, but more often I had a long hike with about 30 pounds of camera equipment. All the rain really messed me up, because I do not have all the rain gear for my cameras, and I refused to get them wet and ruined. Unfortunately, I'm not on an expense account with company equipment like some other photogs. All of us press folks spent hours and hours standing out in the pouring rain this year.
As soon as the riders take off, I dash to my car and head out for the finish. The orange sticker cars drive Hors Cours - Off Course - on a designated route that is sometimes well-signed and sometimes just complete confusion to where the Arrivee is at. It involves a really long round-about route away from the course, but the traffice is horrendous, because that is where all the fans are driving, too. Even if the team is riding for five hours, I was lucky to get there in time. And I drive really fast! Then comes the same-old dance of finding the finish - the Tour officials usually have Orange directions signs, but they are often right at the exit and if one is in the outside lane, you are sunk. But, if the signs are followed, one arrives at the Arrivee and fights for a parking spot in the Press Parking area, and it is usually really far away.
Then comes the rush, again with all the camera equipment and often with my laptop, and struggling to elbow a spot in the Press crowd. For the Finish, and after the race, it is really brutal and no holds barred to get that shot of Lance, the winners and the losers. I have almost been knocked down more than once by the European press corps rushing after the Stage winner.
Then comes the trek to La Salle de Press - the Press Center, where hundreds of places are set up to connect to the Internet via phone, broadband or wireless. It is a noisy, chaotic and frantic place filled with hundreds of reporters and photographers with deadlines. It is usually located in a sports stadium or huge convention hall. I usually have taken between 400 to 800 photos, and have to go thru them to find the right few to send to Lance's website, and then write my short daily report for the Paceline. When I am finished, sometimes there is food, courtesy of the host town, and if so it means I get dinner. If not, then I head back out and start the old routine of finding my way to my next hotel. Sometimes it is as close as 30k, but more often it is 80-100k or more away. I am always so happy that it stays light until 10 or 11 pm, so I can get lost in the light instead of it being pitch dark and trying to find a little hotel that does not have any neon signs or even a street light near it. Lots of places are tucked in behind some tiny street with no name - it is often a nightmare to find your lodging. I am always overjoyed when I am staying at some big Accor motel that is right off the Autoroute.
So, long story and long explanation as to why the Blog was totally neglected during the Tour. Since I have been back, I have traveled to New York to work the NYC Championships as a coodinator of the volunteer course marshals, and recently went to the National Crit Champioships in Downer's Grove. Most of my time and energy has been spent on trying to market my Podium Girl Gone Bad book and merchandise. I am hoping it will sell really well at Christmas time. The PGGB stuff will make for really unique, cool and different gifts for cyclists.
Right now, there is another cycling-related book in the works, and it will be really exciting if it gets to the place where I have signed on the dotted line. I can't say any more about it till it has been finalized, but I am pretty stoked about it!